A top Cheyenne tourism official says the total solar eclipse which is expected to draw huge crowds to Wyoming in August could be the gift that keeps on giving in terms of economic development.

Darren Rudloff, President of Visit Cheyenne, says that is because many visitors will be seeing Wyoming for the first time. He likens the experience to a "first date," in which the state can build a longer term relationship with both tourists and business entrepreneurs who fInd they like the state.

Rudloff says the eclipse is especially important because it will bring in a very different set of people than typical Wyoming tourist attractions such as Cheyenne Frontier Days or Yellowstone National Park. He says the eclipse "will be an amazing event" in terms of exposing the state to a new audience.

Besides the prospect of attracting return vacation travelers, many people may also choose the state for a second home or to launch or locate a business.

In terms of the short-term impact, Rudloff says the night of August 21, will probably be the "most booked up in the state's history" for hotel rooms, camping spaces and any other available lodging.

He says that even though Cheyenne is not located along the optimal viewing path for the eclipse, area hotel and motel rooms are already booked up. Most estimates are that the eclipse will draw somewhere between a quarter of a million and a half a million visitors to the state.

Senior State Economist Jim Robinson recently said the eclipse will probably have an economic impact "comparable to Cheyenne Frontier Days" for the rest of Wyoming.

CFD visitors are usually estimated to spend between $25 million and $30 million in Laramie County for the annual Western celebration.